Review of Sinead O’Connor at The Olympia Theatre on December 18th 2011

Review: Nicola Byrne
Photos: Natalie Byrne

It’s been a good year for Sinead O’Connor, depending on how you look at it. She may have been resigned to flirting with Ryan Tubridy at one stage, but now she seems happier than ever. Why? A Vegas wedding earlier this month, perhaps, breaking her much complained-about dry spell. New hubby Barry Herridge was happy to join the crowd tonight in the Olympia upper-circle for O’Connor’s Christmas homecoming.

Support for the night comes from Dublin lads, The Original Rude Boys. The band, formed in just March of this year, seemed to have a wealth of songs to play, but unfortunately, they all sound quite samey. Thankfully, their interludes of dedications and reminders that they were discovered on YouTube helped me distinguish one song from another.

‘Bringing Me Down’ is dedicated to “all them negative people in the world”, so that’ll be me then. I did like singer Robert Burch’s husky Jack Johnson tone, but sometimes, vocalist Sean Arkins’ Dublin raps didn’t fit as cosily as I’d have hoped. Amongst others, the lads played ‘Live Your Life’, ‘In Too Deep’ and ‘Stars In My Eyes’, their first single. They seem delighted to be there, with Burch calling it an ‘absolute honour”, and in fairness to them, it’s a big achievement having just started this year.

Right on schedule, Sinead appears on the stage, clad in a leather corset and matching trousers, her hair sheared to its iconic skin-tight cut. With a simple hello—nothing too controversial—she launches into Take Off Your Shoes, perhaps choosing to sing her controversy instead. But when O’Connor sings, the controversies are instantly forgotten.

Behind her, stands a five man (or women, with 2 present) band, and a backing singer in the form of her young daughter, Róisín. Family seemed to be a theme for the night. I Had A Baby continued the preview of her upcoming album, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?, due for release in February 2012. “I had a baby, and he looks just like me. A bald-headed baby, he’s been the makings of me,” she wails, jumping to the beat. Proof that Sinead hasn’t lost her soft-side, or sense of humour, she’s still well able to hit the high notes.

Nothing Compares To You was dedicated to her 7-year-old son, Shane. The classic still has the ability to shut the entire room up, even if Sinead isn’t as pitch-perfect as we’d all remember, she still impresses.

Never Get Old is introduced as being written by a 15-year-old O’Connor, in the depths of a love affair with a really hot fella. Until, in her words, he realised that she’s “a complete asshole and dumped me. This is for him. Fuck him.” Ambient lights highlighted a vocal that penetrated every nook and cranny of the Olympia. An actual shiver went down my spine—how often does that happen?

Continuing with the new record, The Wolf Is Getting Married generates a few knowing giggles, as well as a gutsy howl from a stray in the audience. The lovey lyrics are aimed, one can only assume, at the upper-circle.

A single spotlight illuminated O’Connor on the middle of the stage, as she launched into I Am Stretched On Your Grave, a song she “Usually dedicates to any dead people that may be present”. With no instrumental, all attention was on that spotlight. If a pin had’ve been dropped in the Olympia, I would’ve know about it.

Fitting for the season, Sinead begins Red Football with ‘I’m no red Christmas-tree ball’, and a smile. Unfortunately, it’s finished with a belch. She’s still generating the wolf-whistles all the same. After a short ‘tea’ break, VIP was followed closely by Jackie and—after endless disruptive requests from audience members throughout the show—Troy.

Ending on a prayer of sorts, off she trots back to her newfound marital bliss. She may be better known for her kooky candour, but when it comes down to it, she’s got a voice that I’d imagine is still echoing around the Olympia.

Photos: Natalie Byrne